Think about all the secrets your iPhone holds from personal messages and photos to financial data. Now, think about what you would do if all this information were revealed to strangers. Whether it’s just innocent prying or malicious visual hacking, when you’re out-and-about, your valuable data is at risk. So, how do you protect yourself? In the following guide, we run through some tips and tricks to securing your iPhone.
We should make you aware that some of these protection tips could stop some of the iPhone’s features, so it’s up to you which ones you implement.
1) Strong Passwords
The simple four-digit pin can be convenient for locking and unlocking your phone quickly. The downside is that visual hackers can easily note the four-digits. And with many of us using memorable four-digit combinations like debit card pins, this could spell trouble. A strong password will help to reduce the chances of someone being able to replicate or guess what your password is.
A strong password is a combination of letters, digits and symbols. It’s vital that it’s something you will be able to remember that is ideally different from any passwords you use for applications.
How to set a strong password on iPhone:
Head to “Settings”, then to “Passcode”, then to “Require passcode: immediately” and “Simple passcode: off”.
If you’re concerned that your data could fall into the wrong hands, you can request your phone wipes all data after ten failed password entries. This will wipe everything, with no chance of recovery, so it’s advised only to do this if you will not forget your password.
2) Two-step Verification
Even if you have the strongest password, you may want to consider a two-step verification to prevent any sneaky attempts to access your data. When you set up two-step verification for your Apple ID and iCloud, you choose one or more trusted devices that will be able to receive verification codes. Whenever purchases, management or sign-in attempts are made, a four-digit verification code will be required to confirm your identity. This prevents any unauthorised person using your data, even if they have your password.
How to step up two-step verification on iPhones:
Head to the Apple ID section of the Apple website. Select “Manage your Apple ID”, and under “Password and Security” you will find the “Two-Step Verification” option.
3) No More Lock Screen Notifications
Messages, emails and other information can be read even when the phone is on lock. That’s if you don’t do anything about it. While this is handy when you are home, it is not so great when you are out-and-about, and people can easily read your screen. To protect your private information, follow the instructions below.
How to stop lock screen notifications on iPhones:
Go to “Settings”, then to “Passcode” and head to the “Allow access when locked” section.
4) Prevent Automated iCloud Syncs
There have been cases where data stored on Apple iCloud servers have been leaked including personal photos from celebrities. They believed deleting the phone the image from the phone would solve the problem. However, a copy will stay in the database even if it's removed from the phone it was synced from. The same goes for all types of data, including messages, notes, contacts and documents. That’s because everything from your phone will sync up to the iCloud unless you turn the setting off. Turning off the Apple iCloud sync will reduce the risk of the data being compromised while being hosted on the iCloud servers. Of course, the iCloud does have the benefit of affording you extra space and protection for data should your hardware break. You may want to consider managing what is shared and what stays on your devices.
How to prevent automated iCloud syncs on iPhone:
Head to “Settings” to access the “iCloud” settings.
5) Stop Siri on Lock Screen
Did you know that you can use Siri even when the phone is on the lock screen? This means that if your phone is left somewhere and secured via passwords, your personal data could still be accessed via this phone assistant. Your Siri can’t distinguish between you and another user, so “Hey Siri” could also be used to access personal information. We know the Siri assistance can be useful in some cases, but you don’t have to turn it off completely to make your iPhone more secure.
How to disable Siri on a lock screen on iPhones:
Head to “Settings”. Under “Passcode” you will find the “Allow access when locked” option. Under here, turn “Siri: off”.
How to turn “Hey Siri” off on iPhones:
Under “Settings” and “General”, you will be able to customise “Siri” where the “Allow “Hey Siri”: off” option can be found.
6) Stop Your Phone Syncing with Known Networks
This one may sound like an odd one. The assumption is that if your phone is syncing up to a known network that it is a safe connection. However, cybercriminals can set up fake wireless networks with the same name as trusted public hotspots. When your phone connects to this network, the scammer can access your data, while you are none the wiser. That’s why it’s best to opt out of this option, and manually sign in to only trusted and private connections. If you’re on a contract with a plentiful data bundle, as most typically come with, you may consider using this when you are out-and-about.
How to stop your iPhone syncing with known networks:
Go to “Settings” where you will find the “Wi-Fi” option. Under this tab, you will be able to turn on the option to join networks manually under “Ask to join networks: on”.
7) Stop App Access to Data on Your Phone
This is quite an extreme option, but for those that are serious about ensuring their iPhone is secure may want to go ahead with this recommendation. Apps can gain access to a host of information on your phone, including GPS, contacts and messages, and this may be needed for the service the app offers you. However, there may be many apps that don’t require access to everything on your phone but are gaining this information. You can personalise some apps and the access they have, but you may have to say goodbye to some favourite apps if you are not happy for them to access data on your phone.
How to stop app access to data on your iPhone:
Under “Settings” you will find the “Privacy” option.
8) Consider a VPN
A Virtual Private Network could be a great security option for iPhone users who use a myriad of wireless networks. For more information on VPNs, be sure to read our beginner’s guide to VPN. What you need to know is that a VPN will encrypt any incoming or outgoing internet traffic to ensure it’s impossible to intercept or analyse. You will be able to find VPN services which are free of charge and others which are affordable. Just like you pay a small monthly fee to insure your phone, we would recommend buying a trusted and reliable VPN service.
How to set up VPN on your iPhone: Head to “Settings”. Under the “General” tab you will find the “VPN” option. Here, you can “Add VPN Configuration”. Your VPN service provider will provide all the information you will need for this option.
9) Turning Off Browser Cookies
We’re not talking about chocolate chip cookies here. When you browse web pages, these sites generate small files known as ‘cookies’. These files contain information on you, your device and preferences, and these help the website keep you logged in or show you relevant information. If the website is not secure, cybercriminals may be able to use these cookies to hack your sensitive data. It should be noted that for some people turning off the cookies could cause more hassle than it’s worth, but it will help to keep your data secure. In the long-run, spending a little more time on webpages is a small price to pay when you consider what could happen.
How to turn off browser cookies on iPhones:
To customise the Safari app on your phone, head to “Settings” where you will find the “Safari” tab. Scan through the options to find the “Privacy & Security” option. Make sure to select “Do Not Track: on” and “Block Cookies: Always Block”.
10) No More AutoFill
Autofill is also a tool used to remember credentials for your favourite websites. While this is useful for speedy purchases or log-in, this could be detrimental if your phone gets into the wrong hands. Its recommended turning this option off following the steps below.
How to stop autofill on iPhones:
To customise the Safari app on your phone, head to “Settings” where you will find the “Safari” tab. Under the “General” option in the menu, you will find “Passwords & AutoFill” where you can turn this off for all webpages.
11) Smartphone Screen Protectors
Did you know that smartphone screen protectors are a great way to secure your phone? With privacy plus protectors offering four-way filters that black out the content, you can protect your data from people looking over your shoulder.
These are just eleven ways to keep your iPhone secure. Of course, there are plenty more which we would advise researching. We’ve created plenty of guides to device security on our blog. Why not take a look at some of the options below?
- What is Visual Hacking, and How it Affects You
- The Common Places Where You Could Be Getting Hacked
- How to Encrypt Your Tablet